State lawmakers look to provide essential workers with mental health care amid pandemic

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

ALBANY (WCBS 880) — Coronavirus is taking a toll on mental health and now state lawmakers are working on ways to help essential workers get the mental health care they need.

Over the last six months, it’s become clear that the pandemic is not just impacting the physical health of Americans, it’s also affecting their mental health.

“Any mental health expert will tell you that we are in for a rude awakening,” says New York State Sen. David Carlucci. 

Carlucci says essential workers and every day Americans are reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and even post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. 

The state senator has proposed a bill that would create a Trauma Advisory Counsel to figure out how the state can afford to pay for mental health counseling for essential workers. The bill is currently awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

“We make sure that our essential workers have access to the best treatment always in place,” Carlucci said.

Though, it may be difficult to allocate funding for the program at a time when coronavirus has stalled the economy and left massive budget holes.

“We have to continue to push Washington to do the right thing and to fund state and local governments across the country. If not, there will be devastating effects,” Carlucci said.

Health care providers offering mental health services were among the first to see their state funding withheld or cut because of the state’s $14.5 billion budget gap.

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